The morel's earthy delicacy is prized during its brief growing season in the wild, usually mid-April through May. The commercial grower who can produce morels on her own property will have a fervent fan base, probably willing to pay top dollar. However, the process takes a little luck, some skill as a mushroom grower and a good deal of patience.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Peat moss
- Wood ash
- Wood chips
- Morel spawn
- Young elm or ash trees
Map out your bed. In the summer or early fall, choose a shady spot and mark the dimensions.
Prepare the soil as you would for any garden bed. Remove vegetation and rocks. Mix in plenty of peat moss and sand.
Scatter some wood ash over the site. This adds the nutrients morels need and mimics the conditions under which they grow in the wild.
Plant your spawn. Morel mushroom kits are available online and are the easiest route to begin with. Spread the spawn, usually grain or wood chips inoculated with morel spores, on the bed.
Scatter hardwood chips on top of your bed. Morels seem to prefer wood from ash and elm trees.
Wait. Morel mushrooms take time to establish and might not appear for more than a year.
Inoculate young trees. Plant very young trees (again, morels seem to like ash or elm trees, although apple trees are another possibility), and scatter morel spawn on their roots. You also can buy trees already inoculated with morel spawn. Tend trees and morels together. This approach is probably best for growing morels on a large scale.
Tips and warnings
- As a commercial grower, establish your market from the beginning. Contact upscale restaurants to see how much interest chefs would have in buying your morels. Establish a rapport with hunters, who often double as morel gatherers in the spring, and could supply a ready-made market for custom-produced ones.
- If you plan to sell morels at farmers markets, check all applicable laws. Federal standards are strict. Some states--Iowa is one--offer certification. This usually is aimed at those who forage for morels in the wild, but a certificate reassures your customers that you are selling the real thing.
- Morels grow best in a temperate climate, with definite transitions between the seasons. Don't try to grow morels in a tropical or subtropical climate.
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